Taipei, August 30, 2019 -- Chinese immigration authorities should immediately reverse their decision to refuse the visa renewal of Wall Street Journal reporter Chun Han Wong and allow foreign and domestic journalists to work without interference, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Wong, a Singaporean national who has reported for The Wall Street Journal from Beijing since 2014, left China today after authorities refused to renew his press credentials and visa, according to news reports and The Wall Street Journal. In July, Wong and reporter Philip Wen published a report about Australian authorities’ probes into alleged gambling and money laundering crimes involving the cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“China only burnishes its image as an intolerant and thin-skinned dictatorship by effectively expelling a critical journalist such as Chun Han Wong of The Wall Street Journal,” said Steven Butler, CPJ Asia’s program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “As China seeks to play a larger role in world affairs it must show greater tolerance for the inevitable criticism that comes with the territory.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement today saying, “We resolutely oppose malicious, defamatory attacks on China by individual foreign reporters and we do not welcome this sort of journalist,” according to news reports.
Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Matt Murray, who is also a member of CPJ's board of directors, said in a statement reviewed by CPJ that it was “disappointing that the Chinese government has denied our reporter press credentials.”
He added that the Journal stood by its reporting, which he said was “fair and accurate.”
China in August 2018 declined to renew the visa of BuzzFeed reporter Megha Rajagopalan; separately, American journalist Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian’s application for a visa to work as a Beijing correspondent for Agence France-Presse never received a reply, according to CPJ reporting.
China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to CPJ’s email requesting comment.
Editor's note: The fifth paragraph has been updated to reflect that Matt Murray is a member of CPJ's board of directors.